Chandigarh: French President Francois Hollande, who will be chief guest for the Republic Day Parade, arrived here this afternoon on a three-day visit to India.
President Hollande was welcomed by Chandigarh Administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and local Member of Parliament Kirron Kher at Chandigarh International Airport here.
“A warm welcome to French President Hollande. We are honoured and delighted to have him as the Chief Guest for Republic Day celebrations,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I will meet in Chandigarh and Delhi. We will build on the ground covered during our previous interactions,” added Prime Minister Modi.
The city has virtually turned into a fortress, with personnel from Punjab, Haryana and para-military forces have been deployed in the city as security experts have assessed a threat. Earlier this month, a letter warning against President Hollande’s visit was received by the French consulate in Bengaluru.
The French President will be joined by Prime Minister Modi during the sightseeing to tourist spots such as Rock Garden, Capitol Complex, Government Museum and Art gallery.
Both leaders will then attend a forum of select CEOs, which will be followed by the India-France Business Summit to be attended by the corporate honchos of the two nations.
He will be accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourts of Rashtrapati Bhawan on Monday. Later, he will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi at the Hyderabad House, which will be followed by signing of agreements in various key sectors.
On January 26, the French President will witness the Republic Day parade at Rajpath as the chief guest. This is the fifth time that a serving President of France will be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day function.
Also, for the first time in independent India’s history, foreign troops (French troops) will be participating in the Republic Day Parade.
Earlier, the Indian troops had participated in the Bastille Day celebrations in France in 2009.
On July 14, 2009, the Indian troops from the three services – army, navy and air force – marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris along with the French Army on the Bastille Day. The event also witnessed the participation of the Maratha Light Infantry, which is one of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army.
India and France will hold detailed discussion on terrorism in the backdrop of Paris and Pathankot attacks.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the talks will be held to further deepen the cooperation on terrorism as it has now become an international problem.
Ways to enhance trade between the two countries will also be high on the agenda.
Bilateral trade between the two sides is around eight billion dollars.
On the defence side, negotiations are on advance stage for 36 Rafale multi-role fighters deal with France.
New Delhi’s relationship with Paris is very comprehensive. It covers number of sectors such as defence, civil nuclear cooperation, railways, smart cities, science and research, space and culture.
India expects some forward progress in all these areas during the French President’s visit.